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You are here:DisordersSelf-harm


Self-harm is when an individual injures themselves or damages their own body, usually as a way of managing or exercising control over internal pain or emotional trauma.

Self-harm in itself is not a mental health disorder

Some people may only use one method of self-harm, other people may be using a combination of different methods to cope with extremely troubling internal feelings or experiences.

People who self-harm can be very secretive about their harming as they may feel ashamed that they need to harm or may be afraid that others will try to remove their coping mechanisms when they find out they are harming.

It’s not always easy to spot when someone is self-harming and the person harming may find it difficult to talk about their self-harm if it is discovered unexpectedly.

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People who self-harm sometimes describe doing so as a way of taking control of internal pain and regulating how and when they feel pain. They may struggle to articulate how they are feeling in words and use self-harm as a way of externally expressing emotional pain.

Someone who is self-harming will need support to find different coping mechanisms and possibly also treatment for the underlying emotional issues or trauma that has led them to use self-harm as their coping mechanism.

There may be an interim period of recovery where someone is taught to harm in a safer way, while they transition to other forms of treatment and support.